5 April 2021

Easter Sunday Evening in the Novus Ordo

In 2008, Benedict XVI promulgated a new Prayer for the Jews to be used at the Good Friday Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form.  He did not commission the prayer and then promulgate it; he composed it himself and allowed this to be known. He was hoping to settle, for good, a nagging controversy.

Only seven years after this, at their November Plenary Meeting, the CBCEW passed a resolution asking Ecclesia Dei to 'review' this prayer.

They did not mention that the Prayer came from the pen of the Sovereign Pontiff himself.

They claimed that the Prayer failed to accord with the Vatican II Decree Nostra Aetate ... as if they were more reliable experts on the Conciliar texts than Joseph Ratzinger.

They claimed that "upset and confusion" had been caused among Jews.

I wonder how many of the Right Reverend Fathers round the table quite understood what was really going on when this item on the agenda came up.

They failed to mention that one eminent Jewish scholar, Rabbi Jacob Neusner, had praised the prayer and had made the point that it was in the very same spirit as a prayer used among Jews for the conversion of Gentiles ... a prayer used daily: indeed, he asserted, used three times a day.

Even more disgracefully, the CBCEW made no reference to the fact that the Novus Ordo Liturgia Horarum, at Vespers on Easter Day, and on other Sundays in Eastertide, prays explicitly for the conversion of the Jews. 

We are apparently to conclude that Jews feel no "upset and confusion"at their conversion being prayed for by a lots and lots of people who use the post-Conciliar texts in English on more than one day. Yet, strangely, these same Jews are "upset and confused" by one prayer used on just one day in the year by very minute numbers of traddy people, and in a dead language.  

We were not told whether Archbishop McDonald had been frank with his Jewish interlocutors about how many hundreds of Catholic priests in England, canonically obliged to the Office, pray annually in Eastertide the Novus Ordo Divine Office Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews ... or whether he simply judged that it would be easier to keep them in the dark ... unupset and unconfused. His Grace, I am sure, is a Dab Hand and a Real Dude when it comes to the matter of handling Sleeping Dogs without getting bitten.

Perhaps the CBCEW should issue a teaching document about the morality of such suggestio falsi and suppressio veri. Or are they themselves, poor poppets, a trifle "upset and confused" about this area of Moral Theology?

But the CBCEW were truthful enough to admit that they were following the lead of ... guess who ... the German hierarchy!!!

I expect they will soon follow the German Bishops in their current agitation for wyminpriests. And why aren't they campaigning for more and better 'licensed concubinage' [Fr Aidan Nichols' divertingly phrase]?

Who will serve orthodox English Catholics as Flying Bishops? The Ordinariate contains Monsignori who have years of experience of this very specialised form of Episcopal Ministry. Should they set up a Training School? It could bring in much-needed revenue.


Jhayes said...

Benedict started with the 1962 text:

Oremus et pro Iudæis:
Ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
(Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate)
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Iudæos etiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcæcatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus: per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

And marked it up to be:

Oremus et pro Iudaeis
Ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum.
(Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.)
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vis ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis veniant, concede propitius, ut plenitudine gentium in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante omnis Israel salvus fiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Which was was an improvement but still troubling to Jews, since it was a step backwards from the Ordinary Form text which, at that time, read:

Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.
(Prayer in silence. Then the priest says:)
Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

And in 2011 became:

Let us pray also for the Jewish people, to whom the Lord our God spoke first, that he may grant them to advance in love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.
(Prayer in silence. Then the Priest says:)
Almighty ever-living God, who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants, hear graciously the prayers of your Church, that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The question is whether the two forms of the liturgy should convey such different messages

Colin Spinks said...

With trepidation on this sensitive topic: the 1962 text appears to me unnecessarily provocative and full of anti-Semitic tropes. eg "velamen" - that there is some innate inherited characteristic of Jewish people that prevents them recognising Christ, "obcaecatione" qualified by "populi" also implies a spiritual blindness particular to one race of people. "etiam" is perhaps the most spiteful of all. The prayer as adapted by Benedict XVI removes this insulting language whilst retaining the essence of the prayer, that Jewish people come to the fullness of belief in Jesus Christ. The current Novus Ordo form of the prayer also in my opinion no less retains that essence. The question of Jews being "troubled" by this prayer is interesting, and we all appreciate the reasons behind the need for sensitivity ('what we pray, that we believe'), but is there any suggestion that Protestants are "troubled" by the Good Friday Prayers for them? Or non-Christian theists? Or atheists? Or would I be "troubled" if I found out that followers of Islam were routinely praying for my conversion to that faith?

Pulex said...

Better had he left the prayer as is was, or, still better, reintroduced "perfidis", since Nostrae aetate has provided proper theological context for right understanding of this term.

Cosmos said...


I too appreciate the enhanced sensitivity of the newer prayer. It certainly fits our era much better.

But if you read Hebrews 11, especially 11:25-33, it seems like the Apostle Paul did, in fact, contend that there is a mysterious hardening of a portion of the Jewish people that keep them from recognizing Christ in a unique manner.

Any updating of the prayer cannot wipe away this reality, as Benedict doubtlessly recognized.

coradcorloquitur said...

And no updating of that or any other prayer can erase the words of the Redeemer: "No one comes to the Father except through Me." Or the majestic words of the Great Commission of Friday of Easter Week. It seems that many, some commenting even here, put a Victorian-style sensibility and modern irenicism ahead of biblical truth and historical evidence. Just wondering: where does true charity lie and what pleases God more---truth concerning the salvation of the Jewish people or "sensitive" and really duplicitous language meant to appease?

coradcorloquitur said...

Connotations aside (and they can be important), "perfidious," direct and strong as it is, simply comes from the Latin meaning "not having faith." Can Christian honestly say that the rejection of Christ's divinity and redemptive mission by the Jewish people, in His time and in ours, does not conform to "not having faith"? It would be salutary, if not for others certainly for Catholics, to stop the ecumenical insanity that has devastated the Church in the last fifty years and the violence to both words and meaning it requires.